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Cardiology in Birmingham

Cardiology & cardiac services

Early detection and treatment of a heart condition is crucial to prevent serious problems from occurring. Initially a condition can present in a number of ways, from skipped heart beats and palpitations to chest pain, breathlessness or even blackouts. All these symptoms can be causes of concern. While they are more often not an indication of a heart problem they are extremely worrying. So it makes sense to rule out any medical problems by seeking specialist advice.

Book an appointment to see a heart consultant at The Priory Hospital today.  

If you’re worried about your heart the last thing you need is a lengthy wait for an appointment to see an expert cardiologist.  At The Priory Hospital we offer a full range of cardiac investigative tests and procedures (and can often provide you with same day results). If you’ve already been diagnosed with a heart condition our consultants can provide you with fast-track access to a wide variety of treatment options, including the latest heart surgery techniques.

Atrial fibrillation or AF is a heart rhythm disturbance caused by chaotic electrical activity in the upper chambers of the heart (atrium). This can cause the heart to beat irregularly and usually faster than usual resulting in palpitations. Treatment options include reducing the palpitations or stopping the AF and restoring normal rhythm - which requires medication or ablation.

Ablation is a term that describes some general procedures, and it involves modifying small parts of the heart muscle responsible for  abnormal heart rhythms or palpitations. This is usually done by heating the area with radiofrequency electric current with a wire or catheter that’s put in direct contact with the heart muscle. Common ablation techniques are atrial fibrillation ablation, flutter ablation, supra-ventricular tachycardia ablation and ventricular tachycardia ablation.

Cryoablation is a newer technique that uses freezing rather than heat to solve rhythm problems – and can be a better treatment for some arrhythmias.

Atrial flutter is caused by a single short circuit often in the top right chamber of the heart and is treated by medication to reduce the risk of stroke – or again via ablation.

Heart murmurs are usually discovered by a stethoscope and they may indicate a problem with the heart valves. But they can also be benign. An echocardiogram is the best way to determine the cause of a murmur.

High blood pressure or hypertension is incredibly common in the UK.  Individuals with high blood pressure are often not aware if it because in the early stages it does not make you feel unwell. Left untreated, however, high BP can lead to all kinds of serious problems including heart attacks, strokes and heart failure.

Coronary heart disease can first present as chest pain, light-headedness, nausea, shortness of breath or pain and discomfort in the arms or shoulders. Angina or narrowing of the coronary arteries is a common form of heart disease and this can also present as tightness or heaviness in the upper body as well as indigestion. Coronary heart disease may have no initial symptoms and it may be picked up by routine scans. 

In the first consultation with your cardiac specialist they will look at your medical history and ask about your symptoms in detail – including when they started and how frequently you experience them. If you’ve already undergone some diagnostic tests they’ll assess the results and will often examine you.

In many cases they’ll also offer you an electrocardiogram (ECG) or ultrasound scan of the heart. This takes just takes two minutes and helps to give your consultant a better overview of your heart health. If necessary you will then be booked in for further procedures or tests – all of which will take place at The Priory Hospital under your consultant’s individual guidance.  

Diagnostic procedures you may be referred for at the The Priory Hospital include CT and MRI scans, exercise stress testing, ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, an ambulatory ECG or an echocardiogram test (which takes around 30 minutes).

Cardiac catheterisation is another diagnostic procedure that’s used to assess the different components of the heart. It’s a relatively painless procedure performed under a local anaesthetic. Electrophysiology studies help to diagnose heart rhythm abnormalities and which areas of the heart are affected.

After the test results are in you will return for a second appointment and go through the test results with your consultant. If any surgical procedures are required this will happen as soon as possible, generally within two to three weeks.

If no surgical intervention is required you may be prescribed medications, for example aspirin and beta-blockers as well as newer drugs including novel anticoagulants. At The Priory Hospital our consultants can also review your current medications and advise you if any changes are required.

For example if you’re taking medications for high blood pressure but it’s still high other factors could be at play including kidney problems or problems with the adrenal glands or aorta. Blood and urine tests, a 24-hour urine analysis, CT or MRI scan of the heart and aorta as well as ambulatory monitoring of BP can give an accurate picture of what’s going on. 

At The Priory Hospital our surgeons are experts in fitting pacemakers and defibrillators in patients at risk of heart attacks due to severe disturbance of heart rhythm. Pacemakers can be fitted via keyhole surgery as a day case operation.

Where a heart condition is suspected a coronary angiogram can be carried out as day case procedure at The Priory Hospital. A focused CT coronary angiogram is minimally invasive and performed on patients where there is low suspicion of a serious problem.

Coronary angioplasty is a keyhole surgical treatment for blocked or narrowed heart arteries and is used to treat angina or a heart attack. Coronary bypass surgery is a major operation involving opening the chest – and this is only necessary where lots of narrowing is present.

Most procedures are now keyhole-type operations so most patients can go home the next day or even same day. Post operation your consultant will generally see you in around four to six weeks, however they are available at all times for telephone consultations. 

  • Fast access to treatment. You will often be able to see a top cardiology consultant within days.
  • The reassurance of knowing you’re always under the care of the same consultant throughout your entire treatment and will never be seen by a trainee or junior doctor.
  • You will be treated by a team of highly skilled cardiology consultants many of whom are leaders in their own specialities.
  • Our cardiac surgeons have performed thousands of heart procedures and many also work at The Birmingham Heart Rhythm Group and Birmingham Heart Clinic.
  • The Priory Hospital has its own state-of-the-art Cardiac Catheter Laboratory, which is fully equipped with the latest diagnostic equipment for testing and treating many types of cardiac problems. Treatment of complex conditions including endovascular aneurysm repairs can be carried out here while our critical care beds provide a safe and comfortable place in which to recover from an operation.
  • The Priory Hospital is a flagship hospital with its own onsite intensive care unit (ICU) that’s manned 24/7 by an expert team of staff. This allows our surgeons to take on the complex major surgeries that other private healthcare providers cannot.
  • All your treatment from A-Z takes place at The Priory Hospital – from interventional cardiology procedures to diagnostics in the form of angiograms, complex angioplasty, pacemakers, biventricular and implantable defibrillators, electrophysiology studies, ablation and PFO closure.
  • We offer the patient the option of pay-as-you-go. At The Priory Hospital we welcome patients with or without full medical insurance. Flexible finance offers you a way to pay for your treatment over a number of months.

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